Perhaps the rock you’re cooling yourself under doesn’t have access to the Internet, so you haven’t seen the latest egregious copy of Apple design. Between this, any laptop that carries the descriptor “Ultrabook” or anything made by Samsung before the SIII, you can’t find much in consumer electronics that doesn’t look like Apple kit. It’s more depressing than flattering, especially when you consider the circlejerk Apple would have to endure if it decided to go after any of these clowns (witness the hilarity of Apple v. Samsung). As such, the temptation is to shrug one’s shoulders and just accept that Apple is the CE designer for the world.
So why are things so bad? I think that part is pretty simple: OEMs – especially those stuck in race-to-the-bottom, no-future markets (anyone making Windows or Android kit) are desperate for anything that looks like a win. And the most direct road to a win is by mimicking anything that is designed by Cupertino. But why aren’t the big tech outlets calling this shit out? Well, much like sites’ reluctance to call a spade a spade when it comes to how awful certain kit is, the larger tech sites avoid anything that’s openly inflammatory that could be construed to favor of Apple – however obvious that thing may be. My thoughts, which I’ve expressed before – is more in line with Gruber’s reply than it is with Marco Arment‘s assertion that sites do it to maintain good relations with the companies they cover (and therefore access to pre-release products and events).
When you call out companies like Samsung or HP for grossly copying Apple, you risk polarizing your readers. Polarization in the short term leads to more pageviews and lively crossfire in comment sections, but too much of it will ultimately lead to a narrower audience composed only of people that agree with what you write. There’s also an assumption of “impartiality” that large sites too often misinterpret as “leniency”. Even if what you’re favoring is the closest thing to what’s factually correct, there’s always someone who sees it differently. Unfortunately for people who cover Apple, these alternate perspectives are legion.
As you might have gleaned from the header, I don’t give a shit about any of that. If I wrote for pageviews, I’d jerk my headlines more and mix in some contrarian horseshit I don’t believe. Or maybe I’d publish more than once or twice a week. As it is, I won’t be able to let an HP knock-off pass without a “bullshit” call. It may not be lucrative, but it’s my little corner of the web.